Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Why Be Lutheran?

Reply posted by Pr. William Weedon on the ALPB Online Forum on the question of why be a Lutheran:


Been rather occupied of late, but I didn't want the question to go unanswered from my LCMS perspective. First, the reason I'd want anyone and everyone to be Lutheran is because I believe that we hold the pure and true confession of the Christian faith. Second, the way I'd share that with anyone is rather simple. I'd use the old Patristic method that St. John Chrysostom espoused:

There comes a heathen and says, "I wish to become a Christian, but I know not whom to join: there is much fighting and faction among you, much confusion: which doctrine am I to choose?" How shall we answer him? "Each of you" (says he) "asserts, 'I speak the truth.'"  No  doubt: this is in our favor. For if we told you to be persuaded by arguments, you might well be perplexed: but if we bid you believe the Scriptures, and these are simple and true, the decision is easy for you. If any agree with the Scriptures, he is the Christian; if any fight against them, he is far from this rule.  -- St. John Chrysostom, (Homily 33 in Acts of the Apostles [NPNF1,11:210-11; PG 60.243-44])

So I'd say: here's the Scripture. Here's our Confessions. If you find they say the same thing, you're a Lutheran! And when it comes to our Confessions, I'd really just stick to the Creeds, the AC, and the SC. That's the sum of the Confessions and everything else in them can be extrapolated from those documents. So it's not too hard, but it IS worthy of hard study, prayer, and thought.

If the person had any questions about why we taught X or Y, I'd certainly be more than ready to demonstrate why we do so from the Scriptures.

But that's how I'd approach it. I don't think the Scriptures are the least bit unclear (despite OUR cloudiness!) and I don't think there's a clearer exposition of the Scriptures to be found anywhere in the world than the Lutheran Symbols.

P.S.S. Let me also add (because I can hear the objection arising already), but EVERY Protestant sect claims that (as also, of course, do Rome and the East). But the great joy of the Lutheran Church is that it simply knows no other way to persuade a person and absolutely renounces every coercion of conscience. We say:

Here are the Scriptures.


Here is what our Church believes, teaches and confesses on the basis of those Scriptures.

You check it out and see.

There was a time when Orthodox polemics had almost persuaded me that private judgment was an evil, but then Krauth showed ever so clearly (and also St. Augustine!) that one arrives at any conviction (even the renunciation of private judgement!) only by its exercise!!! We cannot do better than what we saw the Christians do at Berea: to check what is taught against what is written.

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